OF THE TERRITORY ADDRESS
Address by Chief Minister
Dr. The Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE
Thursday, 16 June, 2005
the BVI Work For All
I come before
you today, two years into my Government’s term in office to offer an accounting
of our work on behalf of the people of the BVI. These past years have been a
period of great challenge and great opportunity.
We have had to
confront difficult realities – from changing international laws that have
threatened our financial services industry to increased competition to our
tourism industry from destinations around the region and around the world. Here
at home we have contended with the challenge of putting our Territory’s fiscal
house in order and putting in place policies and programmes to deliver for the
people, grow the economy and secure our future.
At the same
time, we have also benefited from important opportunities. The relative
stability of the global economy has allowed for the financial markets to
continue to grow and thrive; improved international security has restored the
confidence of travelers to vacation abroad despite the continued looming threat
of terrorism; and, above all, here at home we have witnessed a remarkable surge
of energy, creativity and optimism among the people of the BVI – from the public
servants whose hard work and dedication allows the government to continue to
work for the people, to the youth of the Territory who everyday are showing us
all the vast potential that they possess.
Gentlemen: When we entered office we recognized that the road ahead would be
long and sometimes difficult. We came to the task filled with energy and zeal
because we understood that our solemn duty was to tackle the toughest problems
and answer the most serious challenges facing our people. And every day our
strength is restored through our work with and for the people of this Territory.
the BVI is making can be seen on the ground – from the new road system in Virgin
Gorda to the completion of the hospital expansion project here in Tortola; from
the critical new dock in Anegada to the youth development programmes in Jost Van
be seen in the halls of Legislative Council where we have passed critical
legislation from the BVI Business Companies Act which is strengthening and
protecting our Financial Services Industry; to the Education Act which has given
new direction and purpose to our educational system; to the new immigration
policy which has finally brought order and fairness to the system for
determining residency status.
evident at our ports and hotels, where tourists are coming to the BVI in record
numbers, helping our economy grow. Progress can be seen in the completion of our
Constitutional Review, which brought together our entire Territory for a
far-reaching and critical dialogue about the future shape of our governing
system and the nature of our relationship with the United Kingdom.
can be seen throughout Road Town where new buildings are being built, new
businesses are being opened and an ambitious beautification project is well
underway. But at the end of the day that is not what progress is really all
government does not and will not measure our success based on the numbers of
buildings we construct, or the number of bills we pass, or the number of dollars
we invest. We do not measure progress with stats and concrete. For us there is
only one true measure of success, and that is the well-being and happiness of
the people of the BVI.
resolved that the fundamental job of any government is to protect and provide
for the people. We cannot deem ourselves successful unless the people of the
Territory feel their lives are improving. And we understand that the true
mandate of government is to create the conditions for individuals to thrive and
realize their own potential.
That has been
the spirit that has animated our work since day one. That is why we have
conducted regular community meetings throughout the Territory, giving us the
opportunity to talk to the people and hear their concerns and needs. And it has
been with great pleasure over this past week that I along with my colleagues in
Government, as well as supporters and public servants, have had the opportunity
to travel across the Territory and speak with citizens and residents.
We have spoken
with people from all walks of life about how the work we have done has impacted
their lives, and to learn about the work that still lies ahead. We heard the
stories of local business owners who have participated in training sessions
sponsored by the Trade and Promotion Unit who are now better equipped to serve
their customers – and thanks to that success are able to hire more workers.
We heard the
stories of nurses and doctors hopeful that with the completion of the Hospital
Expansion project they will have the space and equipment they need to provide
the kind of care their patients deserve.
We heard the
stories of young people who are involved in the Junior Achievement Programme who
are learning the basic skills of entrepreneurship and are building grand and
wonderful dreams of one day owning their own business here in the BVI. We heard
the stories of Small Properties owners who are involved in the Tourism Industry
Service Standards programme and are gaining confidence that they can provide
world class service to a global clientele. And over and over again, we heard the
stories of citizens who are working hard, doing right by their families and
their communities and are able to feel confident that their hard-earned tax
dollars are being used for their benefit.
Gentlemen: These stories – the lives of BVI citizens and residents whose
problems are being addressed and whose needs are being met – these are the true
measure of success. And let me be perfectly clear: The work is far from done.
still many challenges to be overcome, many problems to be solved, many obstacles
to be navigated. We understand that too often the people of the Territory are
not hearing enough about what Government is doing. This Government must do a
better job of communicating our activities to the public. Toward that end we are
in the process of restructuring our entire communications apparatus to ensure
that when work is being done on the people’s behalf then the people are informed
about it. Our directive is clear: No job has been done well until it has been
We promised to
be a Government in the Sunshine – and we hear your concern that we have not done
enough in this regard. And so I am committing here and now that over the coming
year we will rededicate ourselves to making sure you know what this Government
is doing before we do it, while we are doing it and after the job is done.
But at the
most fundamental level the message we heard throughout the Territory is that the
BVI is focused on the right priorities, we are moving in the right direction and
we are not turning back.
And so ladies
and gentlemen, it is with satisfaction in the work done, humility before the job
ahead and with a sense of enduring hope that the way forward is today clearer
than ever before that I come before you to report that our economy is
growing, our people are leading the way to progress and the State of the
Territory is strong.
Gentlemen: The strength of our economy begins with our first key economic
pillar: the Tourism industry. In this critical sector, we are enjoying a period
of truly remarkable growth and development.
Over this past
year, the BVI experienced a surge of visitors to our shores, including an
impressive 10% increase in the number of valuable overnight visitors, with
average occupancy rates in our hotels well above 65%. This success is being felt
throughout the Territory from our largest hotels to our small properties. And
when the tourism industry grows it creates new jobs and opportunities.
When the BVI
is seen as a top destination it draws local and outside investors to undertake
major capital developments – and indeed, we are on the verge of closing a number
of development projects including a 5-star resort, as well as a golf course.
And when these
major projects are undertaken it means contracts for our construction trades and
new customers for our farmers, fishermen and other service providers. And yet
even as we celebrate the marvelous achievements of the people in building this
thriving industry, we know that the one great threat to our long-term strength
So we are not
resting on our laurels.
Over this past
year, we initiated the comprehensive Tourism Industry Service Standards
programme, which is providing training and support for every facet of the
tourist experience – from the Customs desk to the check-out desk, we are making
sure that the service in the BVI matches the beauty of our waters and the warmth
of our spirit.
We are also
expanding our efforts to market the BVI around the world. The BVI Tourist Board
is to be commended for the hard work they are doing to strengthen the tourism
product and to market that product throughout the world. And as we celebrate the
achievements of the sector, we also look to the future and are ever mindful that
the success of the tourism industry is not complete until the benefits are felt
by all the people of our Territory.
end, we have recently completed the purchase of Prospect Reef. This new
enterprise will serve as both a full-service business hotel that will make our
Territory competitive in the lucrative convention market, and will also be a
cutting edge training centre.
centre will provide our young people the opportunity to learn the craft of hotel
management and hospitality in a real world environment. We have established a
Board of Directors and the Board has just appointed a Chief Operating Officer
who will be charged with overseeing the day-to-day operations and getting this
enterprise up and running.
This is an
ambitious project that will pave the way for a future not only of growth for the
sector and our economy, but also empowerment for our people. And as surely as we
are working to make Prospect Reef a Centre of Excellence for our people, we are
also working to ensure that our economy expands beyond the traditional twin
pillars – including a major commitment to our traditional agriculture and
Over this past
year, we have completed the new Fisherman’s Ramp at Carrot Bay and we have
convened the Council of the BVI Fisherman’s Association. We proposed and passed
the Pound and Livestock Brands Act to better protect farmers’ property.
distributed grants to small stock farmers for capital assistance. And we have
brought gardens back to our Primary Schools so that a future generation of young
people may consider working the land as a viable career option.
Gentlemen: These efforts at promoting alternative sources of economic activity
only complement our continued commitment to the growth of our second economic
pillar – the financial services industry.
Over this past
year, the BVI International Finance Centre has moved to the implementation of
the Strategic Development Plan for the BVI Financial Services Sector. The Plan,
which was developed through a unique partnership between representatives of the
Government and business community, provides action points and recommendations
for both Government and the private sector on the way forward, to ensure the
sustainability of the financial services sector. This example of partnership and
cooperation is the best way to ensure that the needs of the industry and the
needs of the public are kept in line – and that all stakeholders have their
I am pleased
to report that already a number of key recommendations have been implemented and
others are in progress.
And I take
great satisfaction in noting that this year more and more young BVIslanders have
begun careers in the industry and many more are now in Colleges and Universities
around the world getting the training they will need to come home and take up
positions of leadership in this field. And when they do come home, it is with
great confidence that we anticipate that they will be inheriting a sector that
is stronger than ever.
It is no
secret that there is growing competition in the financial services arena, as
well as increasing pressure from supranational organizations to comply with
The EU Savings
Directive represented a major challenge to our industry. Under the terms of this
Directive, our old dual-taxation system under which international companies
doing business here were taxed differently from local companies was no longer
In order to
meet this new challenge we have taken a number of critical steps including the
passage of the new Payroll Tax. For the business community, the switch to the
Payroll Tax has required a transition period but all evidence suggests that it
is being managed well – and thanks to this step the Financial Services industry
is now in full compliance with international regulation and continues to be a
leader in international financial services.
importantly, under this new system the working people of the BVI have seen their
taxes reduced significantly, leaving more money in their pockets to buy the
things they and their families need.
Over the past
year, our corporate business has remained as strong as ever, and has in fact
increased, a clear sign that investor confidence in the BVI remains high.
in keeping with its mission to enhance and promote the reputation of the British
Virgin Islands as a world-class financial services jurisdiction, the BVI
International Finance Centre adopted an ambitious marketing strategy in 2004. A
series of Road Shows was hosted in key financial centres in Asia, Europe, and
the United States, the most recent and most successful having been held in
Switzerland just two months ago.
Pacific Rim continues to maintain strong interest in the BVI. Not only did we
recently have a visit of a delegation from that area but we intend to take
another road show there later this year. Our plan is to establish a permanent
BVI presence in that strategically critical region in the near future.
Gentlemen: Even as we take great satisfaction in all of these accomplishments,
we still recognize the work that lies ahead. If we are to continue to grow the
sector and ensure that more BVIslanders are able to enjoy its benefits, we must
continue to do more to give our people the skills and knowledge they need.
In the modern
world the success of states is no longer a function of size, or natural
resources. Today, nations stand or fall based on their ability to produce people
who enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge they need to compete in a
That is why
from our first days in office, improving and strengthening our education system
and providing guidance and opportunity for our young people has been priority
number one. And as a symbol of that commitment we are very pleased to have with
us here today a delegation of students from Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and from
Gentlemen: We have made unprecedented investments in our public education
system. That starts with improving and expanding our educational facilities. We
have completed significant improvements at the Ebenezer Thomas School. Work has
begun on the new Alexandrina Maduro Primary School. And in the coming months we
will be finalizing a site location and plans for the new high school – and it is
our firm commitment that groundbreaking will occur for the new high school
within the next year.
And as we
build up the physical structures, we are also revamping and strengthening the
content inside the classroom.
Curriculum Project is moving forward. The early childhood Curriculum was
introduced in all public and private pre-Primary and Kindergarten schools. New
curriculum in math and English are being piloted in our Primary Schools; and a
new Science curriculum is being piloted in our lower secondary schools.
providing new training opportunities for our teachers at all levels, as well as
for our administrators. In the Legislative Council we proposed and passed the
Education Act which is providing a framework for our progress in these areas.
And as we are reforming the academic system, we are also ensuring that our
educational system is relevant and responsive for those students whose aptitudes
lie outside traditional academic fields.
marked the first time BVI students had the opportunity to enroll in the BVI
Technical/Vocational Institute. At this institute, students are given the chance
to take courses such as cosmetology, small engine repair, arts and crafts and
computer science that prepare them for successful careers after they complete
their secondary education.
our focus has been on providing young BVIslanders with training in areas where
traditionally we have had to import labour – giving them the opportunity to
enter professional fields that will have demand for their skills. And our
commitment to our young people does not end at the school house.
This past year
has marked the first full year of operation of the new Department of Youth
Affairs and Sports. This programme has reached out to hundreds of young people
throughout the Territory offering valuable after-school programmes including
sports, music and art.
The results so
far have been nothing short of remarkable. Just this past week I had the
opportunity to attend the first ever choir competition bringing together all the
Primary Schools of the Territory. There I saw dozens of BVI youngsters – so full
of talent, poise, energy and enthusiasm – it was an evening that those who
attended will not soon forget.
Of all my
memories of that fine night, I most remember the shining look of pride and
happiness in the faces of the winning team from Virgin Gorda who have preformed
for us here today.
Please join me
in giving them a hand and congratulating them on their fine achievement.
And I am
pleased today to announce that the efforts of the Department of Youth Affairs
and Sports will soon be augmented by the new Territory-wide Youth Empowerment
Programme – a unique partnership that is bringing together private funding and
public involvement to create an innovative programme to further support the
development and growth of our youth. This effort will begin with the upcoming
groundbreaking of a new Youth Centre in East End.
together, these efforts demonstrate one single principle: this Government is
investing in our young people and opening up the doors of opportunity to them.
And already we are seeing the results of this investment.
grades at almost all levels are up dramatically. Of particular significance – in
this year’s graduating class from the BVI High School 3 of the top 4 graduates
were young men – an accomplishment that deserves the praise and respect of our
Just this past
week, we saw the largest graduating class in the history of the Community
College. That historic achievement reminds us of the vital role this institution
plays in the life of our Territory. Let me be absolutely clear: we recognize
that there have been administrative challenges at the College over the past year
and reform steps must be taken to make it more accountable and efficient. I am
pleased to say that the process of reform is underway, and already we have seen
savings of 3 quarters of a million dollars.
fundamentally, this Government remains 100% committed to the basic mission of
the College and will continue to support that mission whole heartedly.
Gentlemen: Looking at these noteworthy achievements – from the improvement in
student grades, to the ever growing number of college graduates – we must
recognize the men and women who are making these successes possible. So today,
let us honour the public servants in the Ministry of Education and Culture who
are providing direction and support to all of these programmes;
congratulate the parents, coaches, instructors and mentors who are looking out
for the young people of the Territory and keeping them on the right path; and,
above all, let us give a heartfelt thanks to all the teachers and administrators
who everyday give their hearts and souls for the betterment of our youth.
Gentlemen: As we work to raise young people with the skills and knowledge and
character they will need to succeed in life, we also recognize our
responsibility to leave to them a modern BVI in which the necessary conditions
for success exist.
Part of that
effort includes ensuring that the BVI they inherit will have the necessary
infrastructure to move forward in the coming century.
end, we have made strategic investments throughout the Territory.
the badly needed new dock in Anegada and commenced with critical upgrades to the
airport there including new lighting; we finished paving the new road in Virgin
Gorda connecting North Sound and the Valley, allowing cars and trucks to move
with ease and safety; we have launched an ambitious project of repatriating
lands -- including Long Bay on Beef Island, the Spooner Estate, Prospect Reef,
as well as the Virgin Gorda Airport.
While all of
these investments have been made with their own specific objectives in mind,
they are all bound together by one common principle: wherever possible, the land
of the BVI should be used for the benefit of the people of the BVI. And it is in
that same spirit that we have embarked on an ambitious project of beautifying
Road Town. This work is well underway. We have improved parking and traffic
arrangements, improved our sidewalks and have planted flowers along our roads.
I would like to thank the hardworking young people of Rotaract who have made a
personal commitment to assisting in this important work.
There is still
much to be done, but we are already seeing the first results and it is with
great pleasure that we see that a new Road Town is taking shape that we can all
be proud to call our Territory’s capital. And I am very proud to announce today
the appointment of Eugenia O’Neal as City Manager charged with guiding the
further development of our Capital.
Gentlemen: Let me say plainly – I understand that there are still serious
challenges that must be addressed. In the area of electricity, we recognize the
need to improve the reliability of service. Toward that end, the Electricity
Corporation is in the process of negotiating for the purchase new
state-of-the-art engines and we hope to have these in place within the year. We
have already received tenders that are currently being evaluated. The terms of
the loans to purchase the equipment is awaiting Executive Council approval.
In the area of
water and sewage we are making progress, as well. The East End sewage project is
continuing. $10.3 million have been approved for treatment plants in Road Town
and East End/Long Look and sites has been chosen. Construction of the collection
system is well underway. The Road Town phase of the project will be commencing
critical issue of telecommunications, we are moving forward with our programme
of liberalization. We have appointed an expert in the field who is charged with
establishing a new telecom policy that will deliver on our basic goal: better
service at lower prices.
Gentlemen: We recognize that there are those in the community who have felt
frustration that Government funding for various capital projects has not flowed
as easily as in the past.
these concerns and I take them seriously. There is no doubt that people can have
a fair expectation that Government contracts will serve as part of the overall
economic vitality of our Territory. But, ladies and gentlemen, we made a promise
– to get value for the people’s money. And we are going to keep that promise.
That does not mean an end to large government projects – but it does mean an end
That is why I
was so pleased to announce just yesterday the Government’s decision to acquire a
$10 million loan from the BVI Social Security Board to be dedicated to the
construction and maintenance of roads throughout the Territory. This grand
project meets the criteria of wise government spending.
First, it is a
true need – not just work for work’s sake. The future of this Territory demands
a robust and reliable road network to allow for safe and swift travel. We have
seen in Virgin Gorda what a dramatic impact an improved road can have on
people’s everyday lives.
That is a model that we will seek to replicate across the length and breadth of
the BVI from Anegada to Jost Van Dyke. Second, the project is within our means.
The acquisition of this loan was based on a financing plan that ensures our
ability to repay the loan without cutting into other critical priorities over
time. And finally, the money will be used to not only meet a critical territory
goal, but will also serve as a source of work and opportunity for our people.
scale construction project will mean contractors throughout the Territory will
have the chance to do important work through petty and large contracts for the
coming years. We look forward to working with them to move this endeavour
forward quickly and efficiently. And of all the areas where we are investing the
people’s money, none is more critical than our efforts to improve and expand
quality healthcare service throughout the Territory.
This past year
has been a time of significant achievement in this regard.
We have just
completed the construction of the new Hospital Expansion Project. This cutting
edge new facility nearly doubles the size of our hospital and will be home to
some of our most up-to-date services including a dialysis unit, an emergency and
trauma unit and a modern diagnostic laboratory. And over the course of this
coming year we will finalize plans for the construction of the New Peebles
Hospital, which will then be tendered and work begun.
Hospital we have also worked to strengthen care throughout the Territory. We
have sent new doctors to Virgin Gorda and have improved clinic facilities in all
the Sister Islands. We have put in place plans to build Helipads on Jost Van
Dyke and North Sound to allow for emergency evacuation services.
And in order
ensure the efficient operation of the entire healthcare system, we have, for the
first time in our Territory’s history, established a BVI Health Services
Authority that is charged with making sure that our healthcare dollars are being
used wisely and strategically. And as we improve our healthcare services, we are
also working hard to promote prevention and healthy lifestyle choices. We have
appointed an expert Programme Director to head up our fight against HIV/AIDS.
As part of the
Programme’s multi-faceted campaign to fight the spread of this terrible disease
a major educational initiative has been launched targeting those most at risk,
particularly our young people.
are working hard with educators, community leaders, the Department of Youth
Affairs and Sports and others to combat the plague of drugs and to drive it from
our Territory for good. While we seek to protect our young people from these
twin scourges, we are also making sure that adequate resources are dedicated to
provide dignified and proper care for our seniors. Just a few months ago a
contract was signed for the construction of a new Road Town Senior Citizens
Centre, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of this calendar year.
Gentlemen: In all these areas – developing our economy, providing opportunity
for our people, improving education and healthcare, creating a modern
infrastructure – we are confident that we are on the right track. We see the
progress that is being made and are hopeful that the people of the Territory are
benefiting in their everyday lives. But we also know that there is still much to
be done. And nowhere is the sense of continued challenge more apparent than in
the area of crime and personal security.
As we complete
our second year in office let me say bluntly that I am not satisfied with the
state of security in the Territory today.
Gentlemen: This Government will not rest, will not relax and will not be
satisfied until this problem is mastered. As a start, we will soon be bringing
forward new legislation to stiffen penalties for any person convicted of illegal
possession of a gun or the use of a gun in the commission of a crime.
our tolerance for guns is zero. And let this message ring out: if you commit a
gun crime in the BVI you are going to Balsam Ghut and you are staying there for
a very long time.
Gentlemen: Over these past two years, my Government has worked hard to earn the
trust and respect of the people of this Territory everyday. We have never once
taken for granted the faith you placed in us. And there is no doubt that there
have been mistakes and missteps along the way. No great enterprise ever proceeds
free from all flaws. But we have persevered. And we have done so because at each
step of the way we have been able to draw strength and renewed purpose from the
people of this Territory.
Government believes with great passion in the potential of the people of the BVI.
that when given the necessary tools and provided the appropriate conditions, the
people of the BVI can thrive on the world stage in any field. But in order for
that to happen, the Government must do its job, first. In order for the people
of the BVI to realize their goals and aspirations they need the laws in place
that will allow them to operate in the world markets; they need the skills and
knowledge to compete; they need the security that is the basic birthright of
every citizen and resident of our Territory; and they need an economic
infrastructure that allows individuals to turn energy and creativity into
So as we look
ahead to the coming year we reaffirm our commitment: To make the BVI work for
Making the BVI
work for all means providing a hand up to those who are in need, making the BVI
work for all means ensuring that basic services such as quality healthcare are
never denied to anyone based on income, making the BVI work for all means
joining together to make smart investments in our future; and above all else,
making the BVI work for all means creating a Territory in which all the sons and
daughters of our soil have the opportunity to realize the fullest extent of
their God-given potential.
And in that
spirit, I would like to spend a moment talking about the Prospect Reef project,
which I mentioned earlier and which I am sure is familiar to you all. I return
to this project not just to reiterate my belief that Prospect Reef will soon
become a Centre of Excellence for our entire hospitality industry, as well as a
successful enterprise that will improve the entire BVI tourism product.
I believe all
this to be true. But beyond the direct benefits that all BVI citizens and
residents will enjoy from the success of this project, I want to talk about what
this endeavour symbolizes for this Government and this Territory.
Gentlemen: I have said this before and I say it now – we here in the BVI must
recognize our fundamental realities – we are not a Territory rich with oil; we
do not have great deposits of gold, or iron, or other valuable minerals; we do
not have vast tracts of land for farming.
What we have
in the BVI is our waters, our natural beauty, and our people.
The seas and
the sunshine are God’s gift to the BVI; investing in our people and empowering
them to realize their potential is our responsibility to one another. Here in
the BVI we cannot afford to be complacent about our future. We cannot afford to
be unimaginative about our possibilities. We cannot allow ourselves the luxury
of standing still.
We, the people
of the BVI in this time and place, are summoned to secure the future not just
for our children – but for our grandchildren and their children. In every choice
we make, in every dollar we spend, in every policy we enact our obligation is to
ask: “what will this mean for the BVI three generations hence?”
That is an
enormous responsibility. But also an inspiration.
For when I
look ahead to our future – 10 years from now; 20 years from now; beyond that,
even – I am filled with a sense not of limitation or fear but of possibility and
I look into
the future and I see BVIslanders owning businesses that are competing on the
world stage – and doing it from right here in the BVI. I look into the future
and I see young BVIslanders attending world class schools, one and all. I look
into the future and I see every BVIslander with access to the highest quality
healthcare – here in Tortola – but also on Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke and
gentlemen: I look into the future and see our Tourism industry in which local
people don’t just work in our leading businesses, but own them and run them. I
see a future where the managers, head chefs, and CEO’s of our leading businesses
are BVIslanders – and their work is making the BVI the envy of the region and
the world. And that is where Prospect Reef comes in.
We will not
take up positions of power in tourism or anything else unless we earn it. In
order to make sure the next generation of leaders is made up of sons and
daughters of our soil then we must start planning today. The graduates of
Prospect Reef are going to enter the world with the confidence and skill they
need to realize this vision – and the talent to change our Territory for the
better. But in order to get there we all must be prepared to work hard and to
sacrifice. Because this hopeful tomorrow that I see – whether in education, or
healthcare, or tourism – none of it will come to us for free.
We as a people
shall earn our future through work, through wise investment and through
sacrifice. And, as for me, I would not have it any other way. I do not want a
BVI that costs us nothing.
I do not want
a future that we don’t have to build with our own two hands. For only by working
for our own tomorrow will we as a people know the pride and self-fulfillment
that are the truest hallmarks of a free and proud and independent people. And I
know that this sense of optimism and hope is shared throughout our Territory.
Nowhere is it
more evident than among the fine men and women of our public service.
dedicated professionals are the backbone of everything that this Government has
accomplished or will accomplish. They are truly the fuel that powers our
Territory. Their skill, dedication and talent make our achievements possible.
But beyond the professional discharging of their duties, what separates them out
is their shared commitment to a vision of a better BVI.
Let me today
say directly to all the men and women of the public service: the people of the
Territory thank you; your Ministers thank you; and, above all, I thank you. And
beyond thanking you, I call on you to help lead the way forward. We have so much
yet to do – only by working together as one team, one family will we realize our
And ladies and
gentlemen: There can be no higher calling for a public service, for a Government
or for a people.
building a brighter tomorrow for our children. And so even at the hard times,
let us be joyful in our labour. Let us recall generations past who endured so
much to bring us to where we are today and let us find in their example the
strength to push ahead.
Gentlemen: I close this evening on a personal note. These past two years have
been an enormously exciting time. Waking up each morning and heading off to do
the people’s work is an honour and privilege that I find new energy for each
day. Above all, I draw my greatest joy and inspiration from the work we are able
to do to reach out to our young people and point the way to a better future for
Every time I
see the young faces of our children so full of confidence and expectation I am
filled with such pride, such hope. For me, this is the true meaning and mission
of Government. My friends: We are here to serve but for a short time. That is
the destiny of men and of Governments.
In the end we
will be measured not by the votes we receive, not by the roads and buildings we
leave behind, not by the laws we pass or the policies we effectuate – ultimately
we are judged by a higher standard. We will be judged by the numbers of lives we
have impacted and by the kind of world we leave as legacy to our children. And
we will be held accountable to history.
Did we leave
our Territory stronger than when we found it? Did we lift up our people and
create hope and opportunity? Did we inspire our youngest to achieve all that
they were capable of?
questions I am reminded of the words of the poet who once wrote: Life is
no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of
for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before
handing it on to future generations.
Let us all
seek together to make the torch of our beloved BVI burn more brightly than ever
– so that when we look back at the work we have done we can say with
satisfaction and pride: we left our Territory in better state for the next
generation – and we have confidence that they will leave it better still.
No legacy can
be prouder. No mission more honourable. No goal more worthy.
Thank you. God
bless you all. And may God forever bless the British Virgin Islands.
© 2005 by SUN ENTERPRISES (B.V.I.) LTD.
PUBLISHERS OF THE ISLAND
SUN Newspaper. All rights reserved.